I am delighted to accept the Board of Trustees nomination to serve as senior secretary for advocacy.
I have had the privilege of working with the Academy’s amazing advocacy teams in both state and federal affairs over the years, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue these critical efforts on behalf of our patients and profession.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the frailty of a health care system predicated on low cost, high quality and immediate access. We have discovered the limits to increasing productivity and efficiency. Just-in-time supply chains are a disaster for toilet paper and health care.
The result is a health care system with no reserve capacity in basic resources or personnel that is a primary driver of professional burnout. The pandemic crisis continues to demonstrate challenges, including population-based disparities in outcomes and access. But with these challenges come the opportunities to effect meaningful change.
These opportunities include a reappraisal of a physician payment system that has resulted in a 25% decline in physician purchasing power since 2000. The constraints of budget neutrality in physician payment are unsustainable and inconsistent with payment policy for the rest of medicine. The pandemic has clearly demonstrated the adverse effects on clinical care of an increasingly disjointed, arbitrary and capricious system of prior authorization and step therapy that consumes physician time and resources without improving care or diminishing costs. A continued expansion of telemedicine presents a critical opportunity to enhance clinical care. Potential solutions to these and other issues will involve both legislative and regulatory relief.
Inappropriate scope of practice expansion continues to constitute a significant threat to patient safety. Surgery by surgeons remains the central tenet of our state advocacy. The Academy will continue to dedicate significant resources to enhance and strengthen the critical grass roots efforts of our state societies.
Successful advocacy will require an increasing commitment by the entire Academy membership to support the Surgical Scope Fund and OPHTHPAC®. Currently, only 20% of Academy members contribute to either fund. A mere dollar a day by every member will provide the resources needed for effective patient-centered advocacy.
There has never been a more critical time for ophthalmologists to demonstrate our commitment to our mission to protect sight and empower lives. I welcome your support and participation.